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  5. Die Katze trinkt ihre Milch


Die Katze trinkt ihre Milch

Ich verstehe das nicht! The cat drinks it's milk????

What's with the "ihre" in the above sentence? I'm looking up possessive pronouns and "ihre" isn't "seine" or "sein". In fact, "ihre" is only indicated for "theirs" as far as genitive pronouns go.

What am I missing here?

July 19, 2012



"ihre" is a genitive pronoun. It can be in the plural (theirs), but it can also be the female form of "sein/seine" (so third person singular).

Since "Katze" is feminine, it's "the cat drinks its milk" - "die Katze trinkt ihre Milch." Alternatively, "Kater" (tomcat/male cat) would yield a sentence like "the tomcat drinks its milk" - "der Kater trinkt seine Milch", since "Kater" is masculine.


So "seine Milch" is the same thing as "ihre Milch" in terms of this female cat's possession?

(it's tomcat, btw.)


Just to be clear, here is the whole family: mein, dein, sein, ihr (her), unser, euer. ihr (their), Ihr(with capital means your)


(Whoops) No, you can only ever use "ihre" to refer to the word "Katze", since "Katze" is a feminine noun. If you have, say, "Die Katze trinkt seine Milch", "seine" would refer to someone else, but not the cat ("the cat drinks his milk").


Okay, I think this is getting clearer for me, though the explanations for German pronouns from online sources are really, really bad on this count.

You have these 3rd person singular possessive pronouns (sien, siene, ihr) which can be used with any other needed case ending. Is that right? How does "ihn" fit into all this? Is it not used for possession by a masculine noun, like Hunde?

So, what you are saying is in the above sentence, "ihr" will mean "her own" Milch, whereas "seine" would mean the Milch of some other feminine person or object. Have I got this right?

Having only studied Latin and Romance languages before, these German pronoun, article and adjective endings are kicking my butt. I'd love to know and easy way around them so I don't give up in frustration.


Seine Milch is the milk of a masculine animal or person. The possessive pronoun firstly refers to the owner and secondly in the ending to the case and gender of the object/person "owned" Ich habe meine Sorgen, Antwort: Deine Sorgen möchte ich haben. Er holt sein Gepäck und sie bittet ihn, auch ihr Gepäck mitzunehmen. Er + sein (case Akk., gender neutr.) Sie + ihr (case Akk. gender neutr.).

"ihn" is a different pronoun. It is a personal pronoun like he<>him. English has only two forms, German normally uses three: Nominativ (subj.) er; Dativ (e.g indirect object) ihm; Akkusativ (e.g. direct object) inn. Er ruft seine Frau. Sie gibt ihm Antwort. Sie liebt ihn.


@bel99: The first choice you have to make is 'Which pronoun to use?' This is determined by the owner of the thing you're talking about: 'mein', If I own sth., 'dein', if you (singl.) own sth., 'sein', if he owns sth., 'ihr', if she owns sth., 'sein' if it owns sth., 'unser' if we own sth., 'euer' if you (plural) own sth. and 'ihr' if they own sth. In the next step, these pronouns have to be declined according to case and gender, number of the thing/things being owned. Not all of the forms you obtain in this way are different. This might be an additional source of confusion. http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/InflectionRules/FRegeln-P/Pron-Poss3.html


@bel99, I'm afraid there won't be a way around just dully learning them from tables. What can be especially confusing about German is that the same pronouns can mean multiple things.

"sein" or "seine" always refers to a masculine or neuter owner, and "ihre" to either a feminine owner in the singular or multiple owners in the third person plural. But you also additionally have to accord the pronoun with the gender of the owned object that follows. So you have to 1) pick either "sein" or "ihr" based on the (grammatical) gender of the owner and 2) accord that pronoun with the gender of the owned object.

Maybe this overview will help you. Note that all of these are in the nominative:

My cat - meine Katze (fem)

My tomcat - mein Kater (masc)

Your cat (casual singular) - deine Katze

Your tomcat (casual singular) - dein Kater

His/its cat - seine Katze

His/its tomcat - sein Kater

Her cat - ihre Katze

Her tomcat - ihr Kater

Our cats - unsere Katzen

Our tomcats - unsere Kater

Your cats (casual plural) - eure Katzen

Your tomcats (casual plural) - eure Kater

Your cats (polite singular and plural) - Ihre Katzen (note the capital I)

Your tomcats - Ihre Kater

Their cats - ihre Katzen

Their tomcats - ihre Kater

Sorry for the formatting, I don't know where I went wrong ;-;


@bel99. Wataya's link is good. Just take it one step at a time. Do not try to understand and learn it in one go.


@fleur: I'm tempted to say you're last post is a bit.... tomboyish.... ;-)


Thanks so much fleur, I think I'm getting the hang of it at least as far as Doulingo exercises go. Doubt I'll ever master them in any other context though. It would be helpful if Doulingo included detailed charts in its tips section so I wouldn't be misled by all the incorrect charts out there.

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